Dimensions of a new age; Education in the space age
From radio and television. Are all of us newly arrived in the age of space and we have come so quickly swirling about us are powerful influences likely to have upon our lives the most prodigiously impact known to mankind in the last 500 years. Yet we can barely grasp the magnitude of these social forces. We can only guess at their meaning. What does it signify for us to live in a world of such a suddenly extended proportion toward the answer. Radio television. The University of Texas has prepared this recorded radio series produced under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. We present dimensions of the new age.
And now here is our moderator Roderick Meyer. In a world which is changing even as we speak how do our schools prepare our students citizens for the tasks and responsibilities ahead. Today three leading educators who work constantly with this problem consider the challenges facing education in the age of space. From Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Here is a teacher and researcher who is currently engrossed with space vehicle dynamics particularly the orbits and trajectories of satellites. Professor Robert L. health executive officer of MIT's department of aeronautics and astronautics. We've been concerned in education for many years to flight within the atmosphere. Now we talk about like outside the atmosphere although that's perhaps a pessimist way of looking at it. The optimist says interplanetary flight he's not just worried about getting outside the atmosphere but going somewhere once he gets there. And a little later on a few minutes
later I'd like to emphasize particularly some of the propulsion aspects of this interplanetary flight business. But to try to give you a little bit of perspective some concept of how education fits into this space age what we as educators are trying to do and think of in preparation for the advances we know are coming. Let's just look at some historical ideas for a moment. Higher education in general has deep roots way back in history technological education pretty much anywhere you want to define it doesn't go back very far. It is scientists and engineers. Even you find rather loosely and rather generously are quite new to our civilization. Interestingly enough I don't know quite the exact figures but if you take all the scientists and engineers who have ever lived.
So far as I know the large proportion of them are still alive. As you think of Copernicus and Galileo and many of these people in the history books add them all up. All that or maybe add up are the ones who are active today. And I believe something on the order of 70 percent of all the scientists and engineers are alive and active today. The time scale of influence then of these people. On our society is very short. Most what's going on right now. In this sort of light it's rather hard to interpret for us with the kind of figures we get about the Russians versus the United States production of Engineers they have twice as big a production as we do. All this is in such a short time scale that very little of a historical perspective can be gained as yet. Nevertheless an educational business we have to somehow know what aims we have in mind on a long range for the education of engineers and scientists.
And I would like to point out here that despite the confusion in much of the public press I think that scientists and engineers are basically the same sort of person that a. And in fact scientist is a a nicer name than engineer historically apparently. There is quite a difference between scientists and engineers in what they do and in the way they think. There are high level people in both areas and also not so high level people in both areas as in any other area of human endeavor. To quote my boss stark Draper and what boss doesn't like to be quoted advances in science will affect our race very largely through engineering developments such developments differ from scientific research in that they are directed toward the realisation of practical means to satisfy human needs rather than the extension of knowledge. Science is concerned with the improvement of qualitative and quantitative knowledge about the environment
within which we live. Engineering is the application of scientific knowledge to provide for the desires of the human race. The mental attitudes that go with these two different jobs are substantially different. Of course the field don't really to separate in a sense that many of us are sort of halfway between these two fields. We have a good bit of scientific interest but yet we are quite concerned with the uses to which the scientific knowledge will be put. The educational pattern we're using at the moment MIT and that's the one I'll take as an example because of course I'm most familiar with it. First of all has a strong emphasis on this particular the undergraduate school on humanities and general education. This is a change from the old trade school sort of philosophy which sticks with us as far as public ideas go but there's no question but what in the last dozen years there has been a very strong change toward humanities in general education for scientists and engineers and I think for very good reasons. For instance you find now a
place like MIT freshman who are studying French literature in French classes are conducted entirely in French you find good substantial courses on music and philosophy. Of course you find then the other liberal arts sort of courses which deal with the basic sciences beyond that of course. We have a strong emphasis on the science and applied science end of things. We start with the basic sciences mathematics good broad fundamentals that. Then we have to move up into the applied science area then we get into engineering science the various areas that we have to be able to talk about the propulsion the guidance all those things. And this is accomplished to a large degree in the first. The fundamentals of these areas in the first three years then in the fourth year and most of the graduate years come to fruition educationally speaking in the professional engineering or scientific activity. With only four years to work with it's difficult
to get very much coverage or understanding for the students in the Army's areas. Above all we try to establish habits of thought which permit the use of intelligent judgement in applying scientific principles to complex problems. These attitudes which are very important to us we insist as best we can that the student quite naturally goes on with a process of continuing self education. We just try and lay the groundwork. We don't know what the problems are that he's going to have to deal with we don't know what the what space flight is going to look like five years from now much less 10. Let's look for a moment at the propulsion field. The important breakthrough is in flight. Should I say breakthrough a breakthrough. I don't know we should be concerned with that I suppose because these days we ask for them at the rate of so many premium dollars spent. But whichever way it goes the important breakthroughs in flight
are closely related to new ideas and propulsion esteem. One of the earlier propulsive techniques which apply primarily are surface vehicles. It's not to we got to the up and down or internal piston combustion engine that we got really into the realm of flight that lasted for quite a few years till about sometime during the last war then we got to what we call the round and round engines the gas turbans which are just beginning to get a commercial application now and have had military use for quite a while. All of these techniques have been used before have been good only inside the atmosphere that required ingesting air particularly oxygen in order to operate space flight is not quite that way. We must use as you all know rockets of one form or another. There's nowhere to pick up and burn no oxygen to burn when you get out in space. Everything that we want to burn get hot use for Pulse's purposes we have to carry with
us. We have to burn inside the vehicle and then throw out the back end to get some reaction to make us move along and increase our speed development facilities for the chemical rockets are good the rest we have not gotten very far on developing a terrestrial version of the engine pilot production development space version. All these things are are yet to come. For most of these engines. But these are the sort of field in propulsion that our graduates must be able to tackle and work on fruitfully. We have the problem of trying to train them for this sort of thing. One thing that's forced upon us with this change in the educational pattern much broader education required. So we have to do a good bit of expansion. We're doing what we can along that line but it takes an awful lot of of money that's hard to get for the sort of expansion that's needed. One thing I'd like to say in closing and that is that various of these spaceflight jobs the different jobs have quite a bit of different acquirements some of them much easier so much more difficult
leaving the moon for instance is nowhere near as difficult once you're there as leaving the Earth initially or leaving one of the other planets. And as a matter of fact I think one of the easiest jobs is leaving the moon handy. It's going to be useful perhaps. I wouldn't be surprised but what I'm not too many years. Some of us might be on the moon at the opening of the lunar share have I suppose the specialty of the house might be green cheese that come from Professor Robert L. Hall from an executive officer of the department of aeronautics and astronautics and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We have learned something of the broad educational balance deemed wise even by a school whose major emphases are scientific in nature. To clarify the contemporary role of higher education from the viewpoint of a large state university we have invited the comments of Dr. Heriot Ransome president of the main branch of the University of Texas in Austin and director of the university's Humanities Research
Center. Doctor ransom the enlarged dimensions of that part of the universe in which men are now physically involved argue for a new emphases in teaching and for a new organization of the things being taught and learned. Yes indeed they do. And yet on the score dimension I don't think it makes much sense to talk about space in the very large slants without noting too that all kinds of other dimensions and understanding and education have increased and intensified. For example what the radio telescope is going to do to education in the next few years is no more important it seems to me than what the electron microscope might do in a dimension much more minute than anything that we've ever learned to teach before. But taking merely the larger dimension of outer space no one would argue surely that this isn't going to color and change
all education elementary secondary and higher. Does our preoccupation with outer space impose upon the schools responsibility for accelerated or intensified programs in science and engineering. I think that acceleration and over emphasis and acceleration often leads to over emphasis how both x dreamily dangerous and educationally socially psychologically in every respect. I doubt very seriously the wisdom of taking the challenge of a new space age and even giving opportunities to very young people much less giving forced programs to young people to hurry through what is essential in a slow process that is proper education for a new world of a very new science.
What about some comments and increased acceleration and increased attention to the humanities in the arts. Well if it's true and it certainly is that science is going to make. A much shorter week and make the scientist. And all those people whom he serves much more liable to the sensible uses of time and there's nothing that requires more education than the sensible use of time. I'd say that a broadening and a why is not an accelerated or an over emphasize attention to the humanities is even more necessary in a new space. Then it would be an old and a life surely horse and buggy doctor health mentor earlier in the series has given us an outline of the program at MIT and he has shown us that they are putting more of an
emphasis on on the arts and humanities. Isn't this is this a change that's taking place in many engineering schools or is this just in NYC do you think MIT has a particularly distinguished job it seems to me accepting the humanities and more than that of making the humanities really integral with the training of the scientist. And it has at least by implication as many other engineering and scientific centers are now doing made it clear that there are three reasons for this. One is for the sake of the scientist himself. As we recognize he's going to live anything like a full life is going to have have to have this kind of experience this kind of knowledge. This kind of feeling in the second place he's going to be a much better scientist purely as a technologist if he has related what he is doing in science to the sense of society
and man's activity his existence and the future of humanity. And then finally and perhaps most important not only in his service to other people or in his mere conduct of his weekly life but in his ability to adapt later to a new science he's going to be infinitely more effective if he has learned to use his mind under more conditions than these severe disciplines of current technology in other words he will be more adaptable to science as it demands new adaptations is certainly going to say 10 or 15 years after he graduate. You expressed no question whatsoever but what there is a need for training scientists and technologists of all kinds but with that need you also unquestionably emphasize the importance of the liberal education. Yes indeed and perhaps on another and selfish score
it would be a great tragedy it would it would be the most dismal flight that society could meet if we brought up a new generation of scientists however competent who couldn't talk to the rest of their fellow man who couldn't understand the emotions the political cross-currents the psychological involvements the artistic triumphs that were part of the tradition which presumably they're interested in preserving and not in destroying. It's interesting you say this because on the program it will follow this one public education in the age of space. We're going to investigate the problems of informing the public and one of those problems is interpreted in what the scientist has to say and finding out so that it can be then given to the layman just what this scientist has has discovered. What advances he has made in interpreting it in terms of of the layman. But I think every wise scientist would would say that two very vivid problems of
communication faces him and his whole profession whatever branch of science he may be in. The first is a merely technological communication among scientists for science like the other is an interpretation of science to the world at large from politicians to newspaper editors. Doctor and some of the penetration of outer space in the predicted activities there in have raised a number of practical questions as to the policy and practice in a number of things of law medicine National Government Communications other fields of concern heretofore primarily engrossed with events and needs on earth and within our own atmosphere. Should awareness of these new considerations simply be appended to current instruction or does physical environment beyond our own planet change the whole complection of the school's function do you think. I think that within the next few years any correctly in science or in the general disciplines of political science communication
that neglected completely the fact that the frontiers of man's imagination at least are opening up and outer space would be ineffective and would be a cheat on the student who took that correctly. On the other hand I firmly believe that a certain number of very severe restrictions need to be put here. There is no sense for example in reconstructing the curriculum in biology because it's possible that before a man reaches out a planet man is going to cultivate the ocean waters or the ocean floors of his own planet. We wouldn't therefore want to recast a whole biological correct name simply take care of oceans or to take another kind of direction. The inevitable I presume man's study of the Arctic and Antarctic areas or the irrigation of deserts though a challenging prospect wouldn't upset a curriculum I doubt very seriously that
that. Getting at Venus is to this extent more important than let's say the cultivation of the Sahara or the arrival of the south pole of a new kind of society. And this too it seems to me has its political as well as its practical aspects. I'm a little bit disturbed at the tremendous emphasis that may or Russian competition gets here when it's gets outside of the area of defense because it seems quite is as significant to me that that the Russians got to have one on first. Not particularly that they promised to get to Venus first. People are sometimes quick to criticize education and educators for being behind the times so to speak. I think it would probably be a mistake to fall into that trap and just think we're behind the times if we don't just jump on every advance being made in space don't
you. Well the human heart is very often behind the times. So are many of the other involvements of human existence. We have to remember that that education not only makes its thrust forward it also has the business of holding fast what is proved to good and being behind the times sometimes may have its advantage in giving a perspective that's more realistic than tomorrow morning's newspapers. Thank you Dr Harry H ransom president of the main branch of the University of Texas in Austin for sharing with us your views on the impact of the age of space upon higher education. But one of our school's below college level does their work also reflect preparation for a life heretofore unequalled in complexity and speed of change. We talked to Mr. Richard Batchelder president of the National Education Association and department of classroom teachers and himself a teacher of American history and psychology in the Newton Massachusetts high
school. Mr. Batchelder you have recently traveled over the country trucking at first hand to a good many of our classroom teachers in the different states. Do you find that the emphases of the age of space are influencing our public schools. Well yes undoubtedly as as society changes it's it's education must change with it. Any changes that are made bring about are reflected in changes in curriculum changes in techniques in the classroom. I think probably while this is not new to the teacher. All teachers of all ages have had this. The pressures of changing times in a sense probably in the last 50 years. We have changed more rapidly in our times and we have ever changed before. And as a result the pressure of keeping up is greater perhaps than it has ever been before in recorded history. Specifically how do these new challenges to education affect the duties and responsibilities of our teachers. Well I think that we probably never do enough. So perhaps the answer is we got to do
more. We always have to have more jobs before us than we have accomplishments. The pressures of the expanding curriculum though and this is really I suppose the result of this changing time. On the schools mean to the teacher the teacher must constantly be aware of these changes constantly modify curriculum content in the regular courses you know how to prepare a child for an age really that the teacher is ill prepared to do. This teacher has not really cannot even envision an age in which the children in her class today will live in. This is impossible. She must give this child the tools to work with to prepare this child for an age that the teacher is ill equipped in a sense to really even know about. Now there's a point in here where the Something's got to be done. We cannot continually add to the the course content. We cannot continually add new courses expanding curriculum can just not keep on expanding. We
still have the same raw product this child that probably is no different today innately is the inborn intelligence is no greater now than it was a thousand years ago because we had no statistical evidence that he is any more innately intelligent than he was then. Yet we must teach him to live in a world a good deal more complex than the child of the School of a hundred years ago even the same big basic objectives still apply them. We need to teach our children an awareness of the past and understanding of the present and our conscience and concern for the future. As I've been talking to teachers you see I get this impression they're perfectly willing to do this in fact they feel compelled to do this or not to do a good job. But they also feel that taught it. They're sort of caught in a vise between the pressures on one hand of an expanding curriculum an increased knowledge and on the other hand a limitation of the time plus other duties that they're asked to do of a non-instructional nature. Well in fact because we felt the nationally prominent felt that this was of such importance we have chosen as our national theme this year time to
teach because we feel that the profession must understand this problem and then tell this to the public that we can continually add these things and still expect the teacher to count the milk money and make out the insurance forms and count the lunch money and keep a school register and all sorts of clerical duties instructional. And these clerical duties have nothing to do with instruction. The schools that I've been in the thing they lack I think more than anything else as far as this expanding curriculum situation is concerned it's time to teach. And there is so much to be taught. Even the most conscientious teachers in the best textbooks can't possibly keep pace with the knowledge and information that are pyramiding daily. What is the wisest course for the schools to take the I think Mr. Bachelor to teach the children a feeling of responsibility for learning on their own. Yes I think that this is this has got to be the case because we can't just use the schools I don't think we ever have done this but there's been a feeling that maybe schools were used primarily to give information to be sort of an encyclopedia of facts and if we get across these facts then the child was equipped to
live. This can no longer be the case if it ever was I don't think it probably ever was the case. We must give tools so the child can continue to really learn in a sense teach himself to make changes and adapt himself. This is especially so in a democracy. So whether we like it or not democracy gives us a terrific and almost a tremendous responsibility to have all people informed on these matters. We cannot rely on an elite group to be well-trained well educated if you will to make decisions for the mass. This might be perfectly alright for other ideologies but for a democracy this is unworkable. So we must when we have made the decision for democracy for a free man then we have also made the decision for a massive all inclusive education for each child according to his own abilities according to his own desires. This is a much bigger job than it would be in a totalitarian state. Thank you Mr. Richard Batchelder president of the department of classroom teachers the
National Education Association. We're grateful also to Professor Robert L. health MN executive officer of the department of aeronautics and astronautics Massachusetts Institute of Technology and to Dr. Harry H ransom president of the main branch of the university in Texas in Austin for their comments on education in the age of space interpretation of space age developments for the people whom they vitally affect is a gigantic task. Please tune in at this same time next week when Dr. Glenn administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Mr. Alden L. Blakeslee the Associated Press science editor and carnal Hellman Toller Office of Information chief of the Air Force air training command headquarters will talk about public education for the space age. These programs were produced and directed by Roderick the rock miner who serves as moderator who Automator and writer Mary V Benjamin. The series was
- Dimensions of a new age
- Education in the space age
- Producing Organization
- University of Texas
- KUT (Radio station : Austin, Tex.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program explores the issue of education in the space age.
- Other Description
- This series explores the new developments and challenges that have emerged in the wake of the "space age" that occurred in the mid-20th century.
- Broadcast Date
- Media type
Director: Rightmyer, Roderick D.
Host: Grauer, Ben
Producing Organization: University of Texas
Producing Organization: KUT (Radio station : Austin, Tex.)
Speaker: Batchelder, Richard L.
Speaker: Ransom, Harry Huntt, 1908-1976
Speaker: Halfman, Robert L.
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 60-56-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Dimensions of a new age; Education in the space age,” 1960-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 25, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-gx44vs9j.
- MLA: “Dimensions of a new age; Education in the space age.” 1960-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 25, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-gx44vs9j>.
- APA: Dimensions of a new age; Education in the space age. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-gx44vs9j